Where is the next Metallica? Where is the next Iron Maiden? Where is the next (insert big rock and roll band here)? They are questions that pop up at least once a year. Usually around the time that Download announces a batch of headliners who are near identical to the ones announced a couple of years before. But the question is, do we need a new Metallica? Do we need Iron Maiden? Or is this obsession with bands needing to sell out arenas preventing the next generation of metal bands making the step up to festival headliners?
Festival season is a long way off, but that hasn’t stopped it kicking into a lower gear already, with both Download and Bloodstock having named their first bands. Last night’s announcement that Iron Maiden will once again grace Donnington’s hallowed turf is sure to send some all a flutter and leave others calling Andy Copping a cunt. It’s the internet after all. I could, of course, choose to stay well away from such situations, but where is the fun in that? So here’s some thoughts about Downloads first headliner.
Slayer and heavy metal go hand in hand. Enter any gig venue or festival in the world that plays heavy music and somewhere there will be someone wearing a Slayer t-shirt, probably screaming into the air while chugging a bottle of whiskey. Yet, recent years haven’t been kind to the band. The sad passing of Jeff Hanneman and the departure of Dave Lombardo sees 2015’s Slayer looking a bit different.
Encapsulating an Iron Maiden album into a few hundred measly words is a hard job. You have to mention the fact that now on their sixteenth album, they are arguably better than they were 40 years ago when Steve Harris started this whole thing. You could then throw in the fact that live they are still a life affirming experience and doggedly refuse to follow their peers into becoming a heritage act. After that you’ll probably get round to mentioning the music, which usually defies words anyway. With The Books of Souls, Maiden seem to have set out to make that process even harder, releasing a double album which is just over an hour and a half in length and includes three songs over ten minutes long. Here we go anyway.
In their own way, Bullet For My Valentine have played a big part in my musical education. They were the first metal band that felt like one of my own, a band whose debut album I went out and bought and it wasn’t thirty years after the fact. Of course, since then things have only seemed to go downhill and they’ve gone from the UK’s next big hope to being overshadowed by Bring Me The Horizon and their American peer’s Avenged Sevenfold. Which bring us to Venom, their latest attempt to prove they aren’t dead yet.
Until recently my only real experience of Nekrogoblikon was on the Kerrang tour in 2014. Sharing a bill with the wonderful Baby Godzilla (now known as Heck), the not really my thing but aren’t they good live Crossfaith and the yes they are ridiculous but god they are fun Limp Bizkit, it’s safe to say they stood out. Mainly for being a bit shit. I don’t know if I missed something, but the selling point seemed to be the fact they had a bloke dressed as a goblin. And that wore thin fast.
Here’s a little secret for you, that isn’t actually at all a secret. The first heavy metal band I truly got into was Bullet For my Valentine. They broke at the same time I was moving from Nirvana and Jimmy Eat World onto Metallica and Iron Maiden (not that I stopped loving either of those bands). They were the first band that felt like one of my bands and The Poison is still a cracking album. However, at some point in the last few years things have gone a bit off the rails for Bullet. Rather than, as many predicted, a rise to festival headliner status, they have seen themselves flounder around the same level. Never able to make that next big step.
Music constantly evolves. For every album that lasts forever, there are thousands that ten years after their release sound dated and old. The world goes past them and that is the natural way of things. However, it doesn’t stop people clinging to the past. You just have to bring up a band like Bring Me the Horizon to a group of diehard metal fans and see the reaction. ‘That’s not metal!’ blah blah blah. All of this ignores the fact that it is without a doubt metal, it is just the next stage in a constantly evolving sound.
There are reunions that we all want and then there are those that just happen. I don’t want to put words in my fellow musics fans mouths, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that Coal Chamber fall into the latter category. It may just be that I missed them first time round, I was eleven when they broke up, but I just don’t care.
If history suggests anything, it should suggest that Halestorm are not the band for me. Actually, it suggests a lot more than that, but for the sake of this review that’s stick with it. On the surface its middle of the road radio rock and the first time I heard them that’s exactly what I thought. However, a couple of years after that first listen, I still find myself going back. Because as much as Halestorm haven’t reinvented the wheel, the wheels they are making are full of the kind of big choruses that it’s hard to reject.